Atlanta’s business, civic leaders content with performance of mayor, most city council members

By David Pendered

Atlanta’s business and civic leaders are generally satisfied with the performance of the mayor and most councilmembers, according to a score sheet of incumbents and challengers released in advance of the Nov. 5 municipal election.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed earned a score of 99, out of a possible 100, from business and civic leaders.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed earned a score of 99, out of a possible 100, from business and civic leaders.

Mayor Kasim Reed received a score of 99 out of 100, for a rating of “excellent.” Council President Ceasar Mitchell received a score of 92, “excellent.”

In the campaigns for three citywide council posts, Councilmember Aaron Watson received a score of 95 and challenger Mary Norwood, a former councilmember and mayoral candidate, received a score of 86; Councilmember H. Lamar Willis received a score 92 and challenger Andre Dickens received a score of 83; Councilperson Michael Julian Bond, who is unopposed, received a score of 91.

In district races, the two incumbents who were ranked close to their challengers include incumbent Carla Smith, 86, and challenger Robert Welsh, 85; and incumbent Cleta Winslow, 84, and challenger Torriel “Torry” Lewis, 81.

The report was released by the Committee for a Better Atlanta, an umbrella organization of more than 20 major businesses and civic organizations including the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Central Atlanta Progress, Buckhead Coalition, Council for Quality Growth, Delta Air Lines, Americas Mart, SunTrust Corp., Georgia-Pacific Corp., and Georgia Power Co.

“The role of business in the government is important to Atlanta and we want to make sure that is reflected in November’s elections,” A.J. Robinson, chair of the 2013 CBA process and president of Central Atlanta Progress, said in a statement. “The issues that impact businesses, impact residents and the CBA wants to ensure that the 2013 elections result in what is best for the city. We evaluate the candidates and their platforms with the goal of helping all voters make informed decisions when they step in the voting booth.”

The evaluation was coordinated by Che Watkins, whose LinkedIn profile says she’s a consultant with the Metro Atlanta Chamber to oversee this evaluation process and recreate the EduPac evaluation process for candidates for the Atlanta Board of Education. Watkins left the chamber in 2012 to serve as campaign manager for the transportation sales tax referendum that was on the July 2012 ballot.

Willis was disbarred from practicing law in a ruling handed down Monday by the Georgia Supreme Court. The court upheld the recommendation of a review panel that determined Willis had breached several ethical standards, including an allegation that he deposited into his own bank account a check for $30,000 that should have been distributed to a client Willis represented in a personal injury case.

Willis issued a statement Monday saying that he paid the money to the client, has apologized for his actions, accepts responsibility for his actions and is moving on with his life. Willis contended during his hearing that he suffered from depression during a divorce, according to published reports.

Dickens is campaigning on ethics and his campaign released a statement Monday saying that Willis does not observe ethical standards and is unfit for public office. Dickens is backed by former Mayor Shirley Franklin, who contributed $2,000 to the campaign, according to a disclosure dated July 8. On his campaign website, Dickens wrote:

  • “Simply stated, I believe any elected official who is found guilty in a civil court of abusing their official powers should face removal from office. In addition, repeated failure to file campaign finance reports should also qualify to remove an elected official from office.”

Neither Dickens nor Willis had met the Sept. 30 deadline for filing campaign disclosures, according to the website of the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. The grace period ended Oct. 7. Late fees begin accruing Oct. 8, for $125; Oct. 15 for $250 and Nov. 14 for $1,000.

Norwood filed a disclosure Monday that showed she has $77,546 in cash on hand, out of total contributions of $108,985.

Watson’s most recent disclosure that’s available on the website was received July 8, and showed cash of $71,527 out of total contributions of $72,980.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

3 replies
  1. urban gardener says:

    I suggest folks go visit that bastion of left-wing screaming, APN, for a less “whitewashed” accounting of Watson and Willis.
    After Watson’s racist screed against Andrean, I’m absolutely stupified that he ranked a “92”
    As for Willis, the Supreme Court’s review was much less charitable than what’s reported here.Report

    Reply
  2. Burroughston Broch says:

    Atlanta’s civic and business leaders will be generally satisfied by any politician who follows their instructions..
    Prime examples are Hizzoner the Mayor, Beverly Hall, and former Mayor Franklin.Report

    Reply
  3. Gogreeno says:

    Unbelievable. Why would a managing editor give this so called “committee” any press? The average citizen is left scratching their head. Willis has stolen money from a child victim, put the City under SEC scrutiny with the Fog Fuel fiasco, faked a scholarship non profit which left many hard-working high school seniors to pay for unexpected tuition, food and rent bills, and generally misuses his position to better his pocketbook. Don’t even get me started on the Watson no-show over the last four years… Inciting racial tensions by going on about a white paper??? Shame on us if we allow these people back in office.Report

    Reply

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